I’ve watched a lot of different local broadcasts over the years. I can honestly say, with only a limited bias, that George Blaha and Gregory Kelser of the Detroit Pistons are the best in the business.
George Blaha, Greg Kelser and Johnny Kane
The Pistons’ announcers are kind, generous, and positive while maintaining penetrating critical analysis. They’re not afraid to criticize Pistons players when they make mistakes or lose focus, and they praise the players on opposing teams when they deserve it.
A lot of local (and occasionally national) announcers excel in one or more areas but struggle in others. They might see the game from an offensive perspective, arguing for increased speed, offensive efficiency, or heaven forbid, for the ball to be in the best player’s hands, but they miss how a particular defensive scheme affects shot selection, shooting percentage, a player’s preferred attack, or flow. A different announcer might emphasize physicality, force, or effort without taking into account how rule changes, athleticism, or the ability to create space can make size a liability.
The Pistons’ announcers provide the most balanced, comprehensive analysis I’ve ever heard.
Kelser and Blaha recognized Andre Drummond for what he was, a physically gifted center who positioned himself for rebounds. They recognized that Drummond didn’t understand how to guard space as opposed to the ball, never developed solid footwork, didn’t have offensive moves that required a disciplined defender, didn’t block shots in ways that concluded the defensive sequence, and once he corralled a rebound, he often made poor choices.
They recognized all of this and never threw the big man under the bus.
At the time, Andre Drummond was the face of the franchise. They rooted for his growth and the growth of the team, but they pointed out the deficiencies that needed to be overcome. Blaha and Kelser have provided just such generous, critical commentary throughout their respective careers.
George Blaha has been the voice of the Pistons since the 1976-77 season and, consequently, the voice of basketball throughout my entire life. He has had a front-row seat to most of the greatest games in Pistons’ history, which meant a seat next to many of the greatest players, has given him a unique, intelligent, and mature perspective from which we all benefit.
Hubie Brown, who worked games in the most recent playoffs and called games on CBS during the Bad Boys’ championships, is the only other analyst whose work spans my entire relationship to the game.
I appreciate you both.
Greg Kelser’s acuity came from the court. A member of the Michigan State 1979 NCAA championship team and a fourth overall draft pick who played parts of five seasons before his NBA career was cut short by injuries, Special K knows the trials, tribulations, and joys of playing the game at the highest level. We, the fans, benefit from his experience and expertise.
This brief profile wouldn’t be complete without a nod to Johnny Kane. While I hope George Blaha continues to call games for at least another fifty years, when he chooses to enjoy a well-deserved retirement, and not a moment before, he can put his feet up knowing he left the game in good hands. You’re witty, Mr. Kane, and we see you.
Fellas, as Mr. Blaha so often tells his colleagues when they make a salient point: thank you.
Thanks to your hard work, I, for one, look forward to cracking a cold beverage, sharing the couch with my dog, and watching another season with my family.
There’s one call for us all: Detroit Basketball.